‘Your wedding will be perfect when you truly remember what it's about’
Vanessa Joy de Castro made the first move on Alexander Michael Noveno–one that is now considered a classic. She “accidentally” sent him a message for someone else in order to start a conversation with him. "I would always cut my message and reply the next day so I could prolong our conversation,” she says. After a year of making moves, Vannie was ready to give up on Alex but that was when he finally formally asked her out on a date.
Alex proposed in June 2019 and the couple had to move their wedding date thrice, having to overcome the pandemic, a terminally ill relative, and Covid. On October 12, 2021, Alex and Vannie were wed in an intimate wedding at St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish followed by a reception at Blue Leaf Pavilion. The most memorable part of their day was when they read letters to each other before the ceremony without seeing each other. “Thinking of all the challenges that we've been through before this day–but we here we are, finally tying the knot,” Vannie says.
Below, Vannie talks about the highs and lows of their wedding planning journey:
Tell us your love story. How did you meet?
We first met at my friend's graduation party. When I first saw him, I already thought, "uy pwede to ah" but we never talked, just hi and hello. So when my friend told me to accompany her this time to his graduation party, I immediately said yes. We had a chance to have small talk and he started by pairing me with his other guy friend. I was a bit frustrated, but I made the first move by adding him on Facebook.
Still, no move from him so what I did is I "accidentally" missent a message for us to start a conversation. I would always cut my message and reply the next day so I could prolong our conversation. That's how we initially started. I even try to do sneaky moves for us to have a double date. He would expect a group hangout but it was actually a double date. I did this diskarte for almost a year and I was still clueless if he likes me or not and I was already tired of initiating the moves to bring us together. Just when I was about to end my silly game, he asked me out formally for a date, just the two of us and the rest is history. It was long process of getting to know each other but really worth the wait.
Did you have a theme or motif for your wedding?
Our wedding turned out to be a classic, minimalist celebration with a dusty blue color motif. Flowers were mostly white with green leafy accents. To brush off the formal vibe, I made my female entourage wear tailored pants instead of the usual long flowy dresses.The final guest count for the reception was trimmed down to 50 pax. Some guests who are still not comfortable to dine with other guests opted to drive by the ceremony venue so we can still take pictures with them. Also, for our families and friends overseas and those who cannot make it to our wedding, we hired a live streaming service so they can still witness our big day.
Was this your original wedding plan?
Our original plan was a big family reunion, with all our relatives coming home from the US plus all our friends summing up to a minimum of 200 guests. After our engagement in June 2019, we set our big day on January 8, 2021 to give us ample time to prepare. But we moved it to a second date, July 3, 2021 to accommodate my sister's schedule since she's coming from the States.
Unfortunately came our lockdown in March 2020. Even after that, we were still optimistic that the pandemic will be over by the time of our wedding. Obviously, it didn't happened and pandemic lasted longer than expected.
To follow the new protocols for gatherings we were forced to trim down our guests in half, not to mention the fact that our relatives abroad including my sister can't travel anymore. But we set our new date, July 3 with just our immediate family and closest friends.
On May 2021, with just a couple of months before the wedding, my mother was diagnosed of chronic kidney disease. She was confined in the hospital and I was in the hospital with her. The new protocol requires only one companion and that companion was not allowed to go out as well. My niece/maid of Honor took my place for a week so I could go to my gown fitting. As a result, our preparation slowed down plus the emotional and psychological turmoil of my mom being critically ill. Thankfully, my mom was discharged a month after, June 2021. With a little time left and both of us mentally exhausted, we decided to move the date to October 12, 2021, for the third time.
What were the challenges encountered during your wedding preparation?
Just when we thought moving our date for the third time will fall into the right place, we got hit by Covid three weeks prior to our wedding. We were so tempted to move again our date but we realized that the situation will never get better, we were thinking “it’s now or never”. After our quarantine, we only have one week to organize everything and do the final planning and meet other suppliers.
I was really half-hearted with pushing thru since my brother was critical and was still in the hospital by at that time. I was literally asking God what to do and I began to doubt, was this a sign not to get married? I was really on the brink of sanity, with all kinds of thoughts going through my head.
Sadly, my brother passed away last October 23, 2021.
How did you handle the challenges?
Since this was the third time we moved our wedding date, we decided to push through and just deal with all the circumstances even if it's hard. I am so thankful to have a hands on partner who helped me all through out the wedding planning. I couldn't have done it without my husband. He was the one who organized the last minute plan when I couldn't think straight anymore like the change of venue and caterer a week before the wedding due to the ever changing quarantine classifications and the IATF protocols and guidelines that comes along with it. The change of design for styling since we decided to give it to our caterer instead last minute. Also, our entourage gave us a helping hand to take over the little details for our wedding to lessen our worries.
How did you feel during the wedding?
I was really nervous and anxious. I don't know what's going to happen. I felt sad since my brother and his family couldn't attend anymore. My mom wasn't feeling well the day before the wedding because of her scheduled dialysis. I have no idea if she could attend my big day. So the moment she came to my preps room, I felt that I can own this day because she's the most important person to see me walk down the aisle.
What were your most memorable moments from your wedding?
Hubby and I felt that the most memorable moment from our wedding was reading our letters before going to the church. The moment we held our hands while reading our letters for each other made us emotional.. Thinking of all the challenges that we've been through before this day–but we here we are, finally tying the knot. It felt surreal to do that and we will always treasure that fleeting moment.
What’s your advice for other couples planning their intimate wedding?
To all the couples out there, you are not alone. We might have different experiences during wedding planning but the thing is, not everything we wanted or dreamed of for our wedding will always go as planned. Sometimes, those challenges were really given for you to overcome. At the end of the day, what matters most will always be your love for each other and the blessing of the sacrament. Everything else is just a bonus.
As they say, there is no perfect wedding. Your wedding will be perfect when you truly remember what it's about and why you're all there together whether the details are all straighten out.
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The Dream Team
Bridal gown, entourage gowns and bridal robe by Adora Couture | Groom’s suit by Arvox Tailoring | Videography by Amady Manila | Photography by Myio Okamoto | Coordination by Kiss the Girl Events | Host: Giru Mercado | Music by MuzikQlass | Catering by K by Cunanan | Hair and makeup by Makeup by Trina C | Flowers by Dentelle Manila | Invitations by RDCD Printhouse | Calligraphy by Diane Oliver | Bridal shoes by Nine West | Church: St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish | Reception venue: Blue Leaf Pavilion